Despite a difficult environment, Gogo expects to end 2020 with more business aviation air-to-ground (ATG) subscribers than it had when the year began. Gogo entered 2020 with 5,669 ATG subscribers online and expects to end the year with more than 5,700.
“We have an incredibly strong and resilient business,” states Sergio Aguirre, Gogo's business aviation president. “This year has been such a difficult challenge, but our rapid recovery proves that inflight connectivity and entertainment are must-haves for today's private aviation passengers.”
A combination of factors enabled Gogo to have the year-over-year increase in subscribers including new installations, primarily the Avance L5 and L3, which continued to occur throughout the pandemic, and customers who unsuspended their service as travel became less restricted. Gogo has had a significant increase in new system installations in the third and fourth quarters compared to the second quarter, including a notable increase in Avance sales in December versus previous months. The firm now has more than 1,150 Avance L5 and more than 500 Avance L3 systems installed and flying.
Gogo saw the deepest impact of COVID-19 on its customers' operations in mid-April, when flight activity was down 91 per cent from the high in mid-February. It has bounced back significantly since then to approximately 80 per cent of the pre-COVID highs, while charter operations are back at nearly 100 per cent. On charter flights specifically, activity online and megabytes consumed has increased dramatically.
At its lowest point in early-May, 22 per cent of Gogo's subscribers suspended service, while another 22 per cent downgraded their service plans. Today, 78 per cent of those who suspended their service have unsuspended and 92 per cent of those who downgraded plans have either returned to their original plan or upgraded to a higher plan. Combined, 75 per cent of those who had suspended or downgraded their plan have moved back to their original plan or upgraded.
“From an operational standpoint, like everyone else, we had to make some significant modifications to adjust to the pandemic, and we did that fairly quickly,” Aguirre continues. “We have not missed a single delivery on new equipment or on any repairs during the pandemic. Our people really rose to that challenge, and we continued to innovate.”
During 2020, Gogo also developed and introduced several significant product and service enhancements. Those include: a lowered service level from 10,000 feet above ground level (AGL) to 3,000 feet AGL, providing an additional 15-20 minutes of connectivity time on most flights, and enabling connectivity for shorter flights that don't typically reach 10,000 feet AGL, or spend little time at that altitude; the introduction of Cloudport, a small, simple device that enables automatic over-the-air updates to Gogo Vision content, which is completed while an aircraft is parked in the hangar. Cloudport eliminates the need for operators to physically update their system each month saving time and expense for both the operators and for Gogo; launching Gogo MIX, which allows operators to customise their inflight Wi-Fi networks and connectivity preferences and deploy changes remotely; launching Gogo Vision 360, which offers unlimited streaming of on-demand movies, TV programming and news clips, along with digital magazines and a state-of-the-art 3D moving map, all at a fixed monthly price, eliminating the unpredictability and often high costs associated with inflight streaming video and audio. Gogo Vision 360 is integrated into every Avance system and offers a viewing experience that is instantly and easily available on passengers' personal devices; and releasing Avance 4.2 software upgrade which includes the new 3D moving map and other elements embedded within Gogo Vision 360.